Green Acton position for Nov 20, 2017 re-opened public hearing on Concord’s plan to expand water treatment plant at Nagog Pond:
Because the draft Modified Special Permit Decision document fails to protect the quantity and quality of Acton’s water, in clear opposition to the Acton 2020 Master Plan and the will of the citizenry as expressed at Town Meeting, Green Acton urges our Board of Selectmen to vote no on Concord’s application to expand their water treatment capacity at Nagog Pond.
The criteria for granting the permits that Concord needs to proceed with expansion of their Nagog Pond water treatment facility state that the plan must be consistent with Acton Master Plan. The Acton 2020 Master Plan incudes as objective 2.1: “Protect the quality and quantity of Acton’s water.”
The original terms and conditions that the Acton Board of Selectmen included in their approval of Concord’s application included safeguards aimed at protecting the quality and quantity of Acton’s water. These safeguards were largely removed during the closed-door negotiations between Concord and Acton.
In spring of 2017, Town Meeting voted unanimously in favor of three water articles that direct the Board of Selectmen to take certain actions aimed at protecting the quality and quantity of Acton’s water. The draft modified permit document fails to protect Acton’s interests with respect to issues that were central to each of the three Town Meeting water articles.
Town Meeting article 26 requested the Board of Selectmen to commission a long-range study of Acton’s water, including assessing water needs, resources, and threats to water quality and quantity. However, the draft modified permit document has stricken the entire water monitoring program, the former section 3.3.7. The monitoring program would have made it possible to test whether increased water withdrawals from Nagog were harming Acton’s drinking water wells and natural water systems, and would have contributed to understanding of the regional hydrology.
Town Meeting articles 27 and 28 requested that the Board of Selectmen engage with the towns of Littleton and Concord, the AWD, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reach an accord on equitable access to water from Nagog Pond, and to seek an affirmation of Acton’s legal right to draw water from the pond. But the draft modified permit document has gutted the section previously called “3.3.10 Regional Planning.” The document has stricken the requirement that before issuance of a building permit for the project, Concord shall participate in discussions with Acton, Littleton, and state officials concerning the short and long-term water supply needs and functions of all three communities and develop a regional water supply agreement. Also gone is the requirement that Concord shall coordinate in good faith with Acton, Littleton and state officials with respect to the complicated legal issues associated with the use of water from Nagog Pond. These provisions would have kept open the possibility that Acton and Concord could share water from Nagog Pond, if at some future date Acton needed an additional water supply–which could happen because of pollution of our existing wells, population growth, or climate change.
(Agreed to by unanimous consent of the Green Acton directors, 15-Nov-2017. Follow this link for additional background material on the Concord project and why Green Acton opposes the rewritten permit)